A changing landscape
Developers of residential apartment buildings around the world are betting that residents will value a new suite of health and wellbeing amenities ranging from air filtration, wellbeing coaching, plentiful plants and natural light, to central staircases designed to promote physical activity and communal eating areas to encourage greater social cohesion.
Examples of these pioneers range from dramatic vertical forests such as Bosco Verticale or 25 Turin in Italy to luxury towers with strong fitness, social and concierge offerings such as 33 Tehama in San Francisco and Angel Gardens in Manchester, to smaller developments like The Perch and ECO Modern Flats offering air filtration or low VOC finishes.
Health and wellbeing certification
Certification programmes such as WELL, Fitwel and Living Building provide a stamp of quality for residents as well as a guide for developers, designers and facility managers. The Pearl in Maryland is the first residential building certified to the Fitwel standard. Verdani Partners and Clarion are pursuing Fitwel certification for a portfolio of 6 buildings in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. WELL certified rental buildings are completed and leasing, including Hollywood Proper Residences and Clarus.
While it is too early to tell how these certifications will affect ROI, Hollywood Proper’s team saw the property 80% leased at top of the market pricing within the first 6 months and says the WELL certification costs for the Hollywood were relatively modest; the only significant expense was the $20,000 for air filtration and testing. Clarus opened in October 2017 and was 100% leased by April 2018.
How to choose a health and wellbeing approach for your multifamily development? Know your market
What does your client base value? Research by Enodo Score found that amenity premiums on more traditional amenities vary widely by city in the USA. According to Enodo, renters in Chicago will pay $54 for views, San Francisco renters $78 for package receiving services and Boston renters will dish out an extra $67 for a fitness centre. Knight Frank’s 2017 UK Tenant Survey found similar variation across tenant types in the UK, where 34% of families would consider paying a premium for an on-site nursery, 9% of older singles a premium for cycle storage and 26% of iGen’s for a technology lounge.
What amenities will deliver the best returns?
Communal amenities give a 48% greater boost to rent than improvements to individual apartments, according to a review of amenity upgrades across 100,000 units by the US National Apartment Association. It can be as simple as adding a pet grooming room or starting a running club. The US research found that pet friendly facilities had one of the highest ROI’s, with low initial costs and the greatest average influence of rent.
However, as awareness of “invisible” factors increases, resident demand for apartment features such as air filtration is likely to increase. Tianjiao Garden in China is a case in point, with residents willing to pay more and pledge to give up smoking in order to live in homes with excellent air quality.
A holistic approach to supporting resident health
Build-to-Rent developer Moda in the UK is going beyond gyms and yoga classes to deliver a holistic ‘Hero’ wellbeing service to residents. Residents will not just have access to a Moda gym, they will also have a carefully curated schedule of events and workshops designed around their needs. It could be a health food cooking class in the private dining room, yoga on the rooftop or joining the Moda running or book club. This isn’t just about fitness it’s about creating a socially engaged and supported community. Hero offers a nutritional meal delivery service, access to medical professionals, and wearable devices to track sleep, movement, nutrition and mood. Residents will be able to benefit from the same diet plans and nutritional programmes used by international athletes from football to rugby following the Hero acquisition of sports science company Colour Fit. To help support all residents every day, Hero will provide mental health first-aid training to Moda’s onsite team. Figures from the ONS suggest UK renters are among the most lonely in the population and this is something Moda aims to tackle head on.
JLL Healthy Homes advisory
JLL’s Healthy Homes advisory team is working with Moda on a custom wellbeing strategy for its whole portfolio. Health and wellbeing amenity supply and demand are changing fast in the multifamily market. It’s worth taking the time to choose your amenity offer carefully: healthier, happier customers are linked with enhanced reputation, faster lettings, and higher returns.